Narutomaki doesn’t have a strong or overpowering flavor, but it is considered a delicacy because of the subtle flavors it has and how well it pairs with wholesome soups like ramen and miso.
It is also a beautiful garnish that improves the aesthetic of any meal it is included in.
In the west, according to forums like Reddit, most fans of Japanese ramen are not passionate about narutomaki, but they are not against it either.
Of course, there are always diehard fans who love it and consider it an important and unmissable ingredient. Some consider it more of a garnish, while others appreciate it as a part of the mix of flavors in ramen.
Narutomaki is a traditional element of Japanese ramen and remains popular in Japan.
In part because of its mild fishy flavor, consistent chewy texture, and beautiful pink and white swirl, narutomaki is most commonly used as a garnish and minor addition to soups and stews.
Some people do eat narutomaki by itself, but it is less popular this way than other kamaboko with stronger tastes.
What Is Narutomaki?
Narutomaki is a steamed Japanese fish case that is made from minced or blended whitefish.
You will most often find it in a bowl of ramen.
It looks like a slice of white cloud with a swirl of red or pink in the middle. A piece or two of narutomaki is customary in traditional Japanese ramen.
These sliced steamed fish cakes taste a little sweet, a little salty, a little fishy, and a little starchy. They look beautiful and have a subtle flavor.
What Texture Does Narutomaki Have?
Narutomaki is slightly chewy and rubbery, with a starchiness that comes from the egg and starch used in the mixture.
As a steamed fish cake, narutomaki is high in protein and has a chewy quality to it, but most narutomaki are extremely finely minced or blended, so there is a smooth and uniform texture.
Narutomaki are more starchy and less chewy than their cousins, kamaboko.
They are not exactly clouds, but narutomaki is very easy to chew and eat, although they have a rubbery and starchy quality, too.
What Types Of Narutomaki Are There?
There is only one type of narutomaki, but narutomaki is a part of a family of Japanese fish cakes called kamaboko. There are many other varieties of kamaboko that might interest you if you are a fan of narutomaki.
Most of the alternatives are more flavorful and fattier than narutomaki, and many are eaten by themselves as snacks rather than in soups or stews.
Some types of kamaboko include:
- Satsuma Age, made in the Satsuma region of Japan.
- Hanpen, which mixes whitefish surimi with Japanese mountain yam.
- Sasa Kamaboko, lightly grilled in a bamboo leaf.
- Chikuwa, a tubular kamaboko that can be grilled on the outside or deep fried in tempura as a snack
- Chikara includes cheese and is sold as a fast food treat.
- Jakoten, which is fried and served with soya sauce.
- Kani kamaboko, or imitation crab sticks, is made by seasoning surimi paste with crab liquid.
- Red kamaboko has a red exterior and white interior.
- White kamaboko has a white exterior and is sometimes grilled.
- Special kamaboko, including those with images on the inside like flowers or trees, are sometimes served in special bento boxes for the Japanese New Year.
Where Does Narutomaki Come From?
Narutomaki comes from Japan, where it has been a delicacy for centuries at least.
A book published in the 1830’s references narutomaki specifically, and the tradition of steamed fish cakes goes back a very long time in coastal Japanese communities.
Although there is a Naruto city in Japan, surprisingly, this is not where the majority of Narutomaki comes from.
Shizuoka prefecture is where 90% of narutomaki comes from. In particular, the city of Yaizu, in Shizuoka, is famous for the most delicious and authentic narutomaki.
However, you can find narutomaki almost anywhere an authentic traditional Japanese ramen is served – whether that is in Japan, or in restaurants or homes around the world.
Is Naruto Named After Narutomaki?
Many people are more familiar with the character Naruto from the anime of the same name than they are with traditional Japanese cuisine.
If you have ever wondered if there is a relationship between the characters Naruto, and Narutomaki, the answer is yes!
The name “Naruto Uzumaki” is a light-hearted pun in Japanese.
Uzumaki literally means swirl, like the swirling pattern in the middle of narutomaki. I don’t think it is any coincidence that ramen is Naruto’s favorite food!
Is Narutomaki Healthy?
Yes, narutomaki is a very healthy food that you can eat and enjoy regularly.
It’s also served in very small portions, normally, so it would be hard to overindulge!
Narutomaki is made from white fish and is very high in protein and calcium while being low in fat and calories.
Although it’s unlikely to be a problem because serving sizes are so small (~50g), narutomaki is a little bit high in sodium. If you are on a low-sodium diet, it might be better to avoid or reduce your intake of salty foods like ramen with narutomaki.
Narutomaki Nutritional Value
According to mynetdiary.com (per 55g serving)
How Do You Make Narutomaki?
The process starts with fresh white fish. Some of the most popular fish used in narutomaki are: Alaskan pollock, southern blue whiting, silver white croaker, and splendid Alfonso. The white fish is then finely minced or blended into a paste.
In Japanese, this paste is called surimi.
The characteristic look of narutomaki is created when the whitefish surimi is separated and half of it is dyed with red food coloring to give it a red or pink color.
The surimi is laid out in layers and then rolled up. The exterior is raked to create the cloud-like appearance when sliced.
The roll is steamed in a bamboo steamer before being cut into slices like sushi.
You can make your own narutomaki at home, as long as you have these essential ingredients:
- Red food coloring
You also need a bamboo mat to roll out your narutomaki, and a bamboo steamer to cook the roll in.
It’s a straightforward recipe but it is time-consuming. You can probably find pre-made narutomaki at your local Japanese grocery store rather than going to the trouble of making it yourself – unless you’re an amateur chef who wants to try your hand at something new.
Narutomaki Recipes: Quick Table
|Narutomaki Recipe By Masterclass||n/a||30 Minutes|
|Narutomaki Shortbread Cookies||142||46 Minutes|
|Shoyu Ramen With Narutomaki||340||3 Hours 30 Minutes|
This masterclass on making traditional Japanese narutomaki leaves nothing out and takes you step by step through the process of creating your own narutomaki at home from fresh ingredients.
If you have ever wanted to experiment with your own flavors or wanted to reproduce the best fresh narutomaki at home, this is everything you need.
Although you can find pre-made narutomaki to put in your ramen, making the real thing yourself is an entirely different experience.
This is the traditional approach without any variations, but most people should be able to follow along and get great results at home.
Narutomaki looks beautiful when it is finished, but it doesn’t require any special skills and the characteristic pattern is easy to create with food coloring.
The important thing to remember is to steam your narutomaki fully so that it is cooked inside and out.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
What if you love the cute aesthetic of narutomaki but are not a fan of fish pastes in general?
You don’t need to love steamed fish cakes to enjoy the cuteness of narutomaki in your life.
This recipe recreates the characteristic look of narutomaki in a shortbread cookie! The white cloud shape with the pink swirl is there without the fishy taste.
You definitely don’t want to add this cookie to your ramen. That would not be authentic. These narutomaki cookies probably pair better with tea, coffee, or milk.
They are made by piping a pink frosting on top of a typical shortbread cookie.
However, you could also take this recipe and do what traditional narutomaki recipes do with fish paste – dividing the dough into two parts, dyeing one of them red, and creating the swirl that way.
Preparation Time: 46 minutes
Shoyu ramen and narutomaki are a perfect pairing. Although there are many ways to enjoy Narutomaki, making your own shoyu ramen from scratch and adding the narutomaki is an amazing way to experience the best flavors of Japanese cuisine.
This recipe isn’t a quick or easy ramen recipe. It’s more geared towards those amateur chefs who want to make something truly authentic and delicious.
With a total cook time of almost 4 hours and some ingredients that you can likely only find at a Japanese grocery store, it’s a project that could easily take a full day.
However, if you are a diehard fan of ramen and narutomaki, this is the best way to enjoy it.
Homemade shoyu ramen and narutomaki are the perfect combinations, and outside of Japan or the (occasional) 5-star restaurant, making your own is the only way to experience the full range of flavors.
Preparation Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Narutomaki Actually Fish?
Yes, narutomaki is made almost 100% out of fish, although it doesn’t seem like that at first glance.
Because narutomaki is so finely minced or blended, it has a consistent texture throughout. That is not what we expect when we think of a meat product typically, but we do this with other meats like bologna.
It is also steamed. Many people, especially in the west, don’t have much experience with steamed fish cakes and find the texture unfamiliar.
That’s why you might be wondering whether narutomaki is fish at all – it’s not like any other fish you have ever had.
Narutomaki has a different flavor and texture, but it is overwhelmingly made up of fish, along with sugar, salt, and mirin.
Does Narutomaki Taste Like Fish?
Yes, narutomaki tastes like fish, although it has a milder taste than many people expect it to. The whitefish that is used in the surimi often has a very neutral flavor, and there are no additional flavorings apart from mirin, salt, and sugar.
Most narutomaki also include eggs and some kind of starch, which further dilute the fish flavor.
Narutomaki is not intended to pop in your mouth with tons of flavor. Instead, it is a mild fishy garnish that contributes to the range of taste and texture experienced in your ramen bowl.
What Ramen Does Naruto Order?
In the anime series Naruto, ramen is Naruto’s favorite dish.
The specific type of ramen? Miso-based, with extra pork.
We have to assume there is some narutomaki thrown in there!
What Is The Red And White Swirly Thing In Ramen?
The red and swirly thing floating in your ramen bowl is, of course, narutomaki!
This steamed slice of fish cake makes the perfect complement to any Japanese soup or stew.
With a mild fishy flavor and a chewy, rubbery texture, it’s a traditional part of the ramen experience you don’t want to miss.
What’s Naruto Made Of?
Narutomaki is made of fish – specifically, white fish paste, or surimi.
This fish paste is typically a finely minced or blended mix of fish, including Alaskan pollock, southern blue whiting, silver white croaker, or splendid Alfonso.
This fish paste is dyed with food coloring to create the characteristic pink swirl pattern and then steamed and sliced to create the fish cakes that are added to soups and ramen.
The majority of Naruto is fish or squid, although there is some egg and starch included in most mixtures.
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